Geraldine McCaughrean was born in London and at first intended to become a teacher. Instead she began writing after taking a job in a major publishing company. In 1987 A Little Lower than the Angels won the Whitbread Children's Novel Award. A Pack of Lies received the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Children's Fiction Award in 1988, and in 1994, Gold Dust was the winner of the Beefeater Children's Book of the Year Award and was shortlisted for the Smarties Book Prize. All three are published in Puffin.
PLACE AND DATE OF BIRTH:
Enfield, Middlesex; 6 June 1951
As a child: The Ship that Flew by Helen Lewis
MOST TREASURED POSSESSION:
Blue Dog (actually my daughter's possession, but love is catching)
When did you start writing?
I can't remember a time when I was not writing stories. I was very shy and inarticulate; writing things down was the only way I ever got to the end of a sentence. But I had such an exciting time in my stories that I was never miserable (except at parties). My brother got a book published when he was twelve and I was nine. Since I longed to be like him, that made a big impact on me, too.
Where do you get your ideas?
Out of newspapers. From my daughter. Out of doing research for other books. Above all out of the aether. Stories already exist and roam about like ghosts looking for someone to haunt.
Can you give your top three tips to becoming a successful author?
1. Write for your own pleasure, not by trying to imagine a reader reading what you write. If you enjoy it, they will.
2. Don't write about what you know about; write about what you would like to know about, the person you would like to be, the adventures you would like to have.
3. Who cares whether you're published or not? (I know that's OK for me to say, but I never expected to get published and that's not the best reason to write.)
A holiday when I was eight, at a big old house-hotel in Devon with a wild walled garden. My brother and I played together all the time. It was hot and quiet and we went to the sea often. Our flat was the old library and round the cornice was written: 'A good book is the lifeblood of a master spirit'.
Favourite place in the world and why?
Apart from home, my favourite place would be the tropical island I haven't been to yet, where the days are long and sunny and empty of commitments. One day I'll find out where it is and go there and get a book written.
What are your hobbies?
I don't have time these days for anything much but writing, though I like sewing patchwork quilts, etc. I used to do all kinds of things: archery, fencing, flying light aircraft, boating...
If you hadn't been a writer, what do you think you would have been?